Barangays getting more active in smoke-free campaign despite problems encountered

BAGUIO CITY – Barangays are getting more active in the implementation of Ordinance No. 34-2017 or the Smoke-Free Baguio City Ordinance despite encountering obstacles in the enforcement.

During the Smoke-Free Medium-Term Planning held April 22-24 in Bauang, La Union, some barangay officials along with the Public Order and Safety Division (POSD) enforcers shared their experiences in the enforcement of the ordinance, some of which were unpleasant.

They cited instances when they were scorned at the social media and derided on site.

They said there were those accosted who resort to dropping the names of city officials or other influential persons to skirt penalties.

"Others some whom call center agents tried to scare or belittle us by speaking to us in high slanged English terms and acting high-handed," one enforcer related.

One barangay nutrition scholar said some of them even received death threats from those caught in the smoke-free drive.

"The threats came incessantly prompting some of our officials to consider lying low in the enforcement but that should not be an option for us for the sake of the good intention of the ordinance," the health worker said.

Dr. Donnabel Tubera, tobacco control officer of the City Health Services Office lauded the enthusiasm and dedication of the deputized barangay officials which she said is primordial in achieving the ultimate goal of making tobacco control programs in the city sustainable.

Recently, the Baguio City Smoke-Free Task Force of the city government awarded two barangays for their exemplary performance of their smoke-free functions.

Barangays Lopez Jaena and DPS received certificates of commendation from city officials led by Mayor Mauricio Domogan.

During the planning session, representatives of at least 16 barangays joined various city government offices, line agencies and other sectors in presenting their action plans for more effective enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance in the city.

The Smoke-Free Project Team that facilitated the planning headed by Project Development Officer Cecille Agpawa said the outputs on the priority action plans will serve as basis for the strategic plan for the campaign from 2019-2022.

Around 70 participated in the planning where the task force also presented the accomplishment of the smoke-free program, result of the Baguio Adult Tobacco Survey and the Philippines Performance Index.

In October last year, Mayor Domogan issued Administrative Order no. 136-18 that decentralizes the implementation of the smoke-free ordinance and commissioned the 128 barangays through their deputized smoke-free point persons to become part of the 16 community task forces to act as enforcers.

Among the duties of the task forces are to receive, review and process reports and complaints and notify deputized members to validate reports; inspect and monitor compliance of all places covered by the Ordinance, check the appropriateness of the designated smoking areas and recommend the approval, suspension or revocation of licenses or permits and closure of non-compliant establishments; conduct educational awareness campaigns on the ordinance, ill effects of smoking and exposure to second hand smoke and smoking cessation program; and inspect the presence of appropriate Smoke-Free signages. – Aileen P. Refuerzo

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